I have been running Humminbird multi-function displays since 2014 and have owned each model to come out over almost a decade. Each time they release a new model there are improvements in functionality, software and processing. In this time I haven’t seen another product to rival Humminbird’s MEGA Down and Side Imaging – and I have access to every unit that exists in the world of fishing. I was therefore extremely excited to recently take ownership of Humminbird’s new Apex unit, which I got in the mammoth 16in display. I have it networked to a 12in Solix on the bow and linked to a Minn Kota 112lb Ulterra. Apex has taken all the best parts of Humminbird’s technology from the past 10 years and refined it into what is without doubt their best unit ever.
One Boat Network
The Apex is available in sizes of 13, 16 and 19 with full HD resolution. For anglers familiar with Solix units the transition to Apex is an easy move. Apex features the Cross Touch system, giving you the ability to control the units via touchscreen or a mix of push buttons, a dial and a joystick. It’s all very ergonomic and intuitive. Apex offers some handy additions that strengthens Humminbird’s One Boat Network concept, where it links the units with Minn Kota Talon and Raptor electric motors, as well as Cannon downriggers.
I love the One Boat Network concept; it has dramatically changed how I fish and improved my success by connecting my unit with my Minn Kota Ulterra. It’s what I use exclusively for anchoring, whether bait or lure fishing – I haven’t dropped lead and chain overboard in three years. I also don’t need to give much thought to anchoring on fish or a mark, I simply sound the fish or structure on my sonar, mark a waypoint and then via that same unit tell the Minn Kota to spot-lock on it, so it deploys automatically then auto-pilots over to the mark with precision. While other anglers are spending time driving back to the mark and trying to set the anchor, I’m rigging baits or lures while the One Boat Network features do it all for me – it’s truly an amazing feature.
Apex features dual sonar ports with allowances for both Humminbird transducers and up to 2kw Airmar transducers. This feature shows how Apex is looking at a market that isn’t just fishing lakes and rivers but for the angler who’s also heading offshore. Not only can you connect two transducers, but you can run them both at the same time and the unit will blend both data streams into one clear image.
The Apex features dual Ethernet ports, NMEA 2000, GPS/NMEA 0183, and HDMI in and out allowing you to connect smartphones, underwater cameras and other devices. With these additional ports I can run a second unit and a Minn Kota Link without needing an additional ethernet module. It makes set-up, installation and everyday performance cleaner, easier to manage and far more efficient.
Essentially Humminbird have embraced the fact that more anglers are running external products such as MEGA Live, MEGA 360, Minn Kota electric motors, Minn Kota Talon and Raptor shallow water anchors, downriggers and more and bigger transducers and they’ve accommodated for it – it’s a big improvement.
2D sonar and both Side and Down Imaging sonar look exceptional thanks to the large 16in HD screen. As I said earlier, these are world-class and outstanding tools for not just finding fish, but more importantly finding the structure where fish reside. I use it to find submerged snags in lakes and rivers and in bays to find reef, rubble and bait. Countless times in bays and estuaries I have seen small bait balls at a distance; I can then drive over, find the fish and target them. It has such detail that I can use it an estuary to find holes in the sand made by sand worms and bass yabbies, alerting me to likely large flathead grounds. While I do use it to find fish, it’s far more efficient and realistic to sound bottom and structure and it offers it in such detail that it’s easy to find where the fish will be. I largely use the 2D for snapper and kingfish, where it provides exceptional returns thanks to the dual spectrum Chirp sonar.
I’ve been really pleased with the navigation on Apex. I’ve run Navionics with relief shading, as well as Humminbird’s new Coast Master charts, which are amazing. Regardless of what map data I’m using, the unit can track my vessel down to precise locations and it’s easy to use. With a Navionics card and Relief Shading it shows 3D underwater contours like never before, and I’m finding underwater depth changes and structure in my home waters that I previously didn’t know about. This has led to me finding and catching more fish. The processor handles all this data without issue. Adding and editing waypoints is a breeze, with a lot of options to customise waypoint markers so you can keep your data organised.
After about six months of use I installed Humminbird’s new CoastMaster chart. This has taken navigation and data to a whole new level. CoastMaster offers exceptional underwater data and outstanding customisation of that data to suit your needs. While there is a pre-set menu offering three modes of Fishing, Navigation and User, each of these can be customised to suit your needs. You’re offered 5 colour palettes and each can be customised. Essentially, any data imaginable such as navigation aids, anchorage and nautical objects, through to tides and currents and underwater data such as wrecks, rocks and fishing objects are available.
Whether you’re using CoastMaster strictly for finding likely fishing grounds or for navigation purposes, it offers more data than Navionics and will show you new aspects of your most fished and well-known waters.
Since using it I have not only found new grounds to fish, but it’s made general navigation and fishing easier thanks to its data-rich layout. When I first started using it I was targeting kingfish in the shallows of Westernport Bay. I customised all my depth and contour colours and the map clearly showed me likely edges and drop-offs the kingfish would be feeding on. By moving to these areas, we quickly found the fish and understood their behaviour and movements.
Humminbird Australia has an outstanding YouTube video titled CoastMaster Australia Training Seminar that runs you through all aspects of using CoastMaster. It’s easy to follow and presented by Humminbird’s Australian brand manager, so its relatable and moves at a great pace.
The only thing to keep in mind when purchasing CoastMaster is that it doesn’t cover all inland lakes and estuary systems, so you’ll need to switch back to your Navionics card to have basic data for that. But for coastal waters it’s outstanding and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
One Boat Network
While the Apex does have an excellent nav system which is now enhanced by CoastMaster and world-class side imaging, it’s the integration between all the other electronic fishing tools we use that really sets it apart. If you’re looking for a multi-function display that can handle all fishing styles and act as a central brain to control your vessel, it’s hard to go past the Apex. It’s a very effective tool to have on your boat.